Shelby County Republican, Brian Kelsey, was the lone “no” vote in Tennessee’s House yesterday on whether to lower the GPA requirements for the Lottery Scholarship.

Kelsey said, “If we’re going to have the best and brightest, then we need to keep the standards high.” Right on, Kelsey.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree that some form of reduction is needed to keep the merit-based award after figures released earlier this year by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission showed 50 percent of students lost their HOPE scholarships after their first year in college and 68 percent by their fourth year.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard something so absurd. Because students can’t cut it in college, we need to make it easier for them? Come on! How many times have you heard of a boss lowering expectations for his employees because they can’t meet his standards?

Why not open the HOPE Scholarship up to non-traditional students, i.e., adult students returning to college or going for the first time? Or maybe raise the standards for students receiving the scholarship in the first place, effectively “weeding out” the students that may have just gotten lucky on the ACT? As it currently stands, a student must have a 21 (out of 36) on the ACT or a 3.0 cumulative high school GPA in order to receive the scholarship. Tennessee is the only state that has the either/or requirement. Other states with similar programs have a minimum GPA and ACT/SAT requirement – a student must meet minimum requirements on both.

The only thing lowering Scholarship standards will do is ensure that kids who don’t need to be in college in the first place have even longer to waste others’ time and money. I’m not talking about the kids who really want to be in college and struggle to make the grades (these kids, I’m certain, would be able to hang on to their scholarships, with appropriate effort and assistance). I’m talking about the kids that go to college “because that’s what you do after high school,” but have no real desire to succeed. I know these kids because I was one.

I would have qualified for the HOPE Scholarship – had it been offered at the time – even with more stringent High School requirements (like the ACT and GPA example I mentioned above). Quite frankly, however, I went to college after high school because that’s what one does nowadays, with absolutely no ambition whatsoever. What did it take for me to finish school? Losing my financial aid. I could have stuck around and wasted others’ time, had the lottery scholarship been available with these new, lower standards, but the fact that the government took away my financial aid got me out of school, forced me to work a full-time job I hated, and motivated me to bust my tail to get back into college. Even with my less-than-stellar GPA upon re-entry to college, I still managed to graduate with higher than a 3.0. Why? Because I wanted it. Giving money to kids who don’t really want to be there is not only a waste, it hurts the kid in the long run.

The government, however, is really good at hurting us and calling it “help.” I just feel bad for the students who are going to be stuck in classes with the drunk kids for another couple of years, just because the lazy ones still have the money to be there…

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